02/24/2016, 17.20
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The death penalty "does not exist" in Kyrgyzstan

by Sergei Colubr

During the Angelus last Sunday, Pope Francis called for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide. In Kyrgyzstan, local media did not report it since the practice "officially does not exist." Abolished in 2007, the death penalty is sometimes “unwittingly” carried out by police. For most Kyrgyz, the rejection of the death penalty is seen as another strange idea from Western culture.

Bishkek (AsiaNews) - The appeal Pope Francis made during the Angelus last Sunday for the worldwide abolition of the death penalty received no media comments in Kyrgyzstan because officially the practice does not exist in the country. However, most Kyrgyz share the view expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC).

According to the latter, “The State's effort to contain the spread of behaviors injurious to human rights and the fundamental rules of civil coexistence corresponds to the requirement of watching over the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime. The primary scope of the penalty is to redress the disorder caused by the offense. When his punishment is voluntarily accepted by the offender, it takes on the value of expiation. Moreover, punishment, in addition to preserving public order and the safety of persons, has a medicinal scope: as far as possible it should contribute to the correction of the offender” (CCC, 2266).

At the same time,  “The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor” (CCC 2267).

Catholics are small community in Kyrgyzstan – about 300 people out of a population of 5.6 million – but Protestants are quite active at the social level and during discussions about the death penalty, they cite the teachings of Saint Paul who said, “rulers do not bear the sword for no reason” (Rom, 13:4).

We can say that people in Kyrgyzstan believe that a ban of the death penalty is connected with  the disappearance of beliefs about the activities of Satan, who is extremely ruthless and against whom society should have laws to defend itself. The rejection of the death penalty is seen rather as another strange idea that comes from Western culture.

According to state law, the death penalty is prohibited. On 27 June 2007, then President Kurmanbek Bakiyev signed an amendment to Kyrgyzstan's Criminal Code abolishing the death penalty. The Kyrgyz constitution was amended to state that, "No one in the Kyrgyz Republic can be deprived of life". However, police sometimes "unwittingly" impose the death penalty.

Events a few months ago can serve as an example. In the night of October 12, nine people escaped from jail №50, in Lower Nooruz village. Seven prisoners were serving life imprisonment (one man had murdered his family, including a 14-year-old niece) and two were still waiting for their case to be heard.

In order to escape, the prisoners brutally killed three prison guards – hammering nails into their heads.  Another officer, Colonel Tilek Abylgaliev, was seriously wounded and died later.

Five of the nine escapees were arrested an hour after the escape, but the others were shot dead by police during their arrest over the following days.

We can say that the police, knowing that the escapees would get another sentence, imposed a death sentence on them. Their superiors even praised them for their professionalism.

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